Fresh from his work on the groundbreaking science-fiction film Tron, Chris Wedge didn't turn his attention to another movie. Instead, he came to Ohio State.
"I'd had success, but felt if I was going to animate in the future I had to know how to program," says Wedge, who earned a master's degree in art education in 1985. "I met Chuck Csuri at a conference in 1984 and he said, 'Come to Ohio State. You can learn and teach animation at the same time and we can both benefit.'"
Wedge's new film opens Friday: he's director of Epic, a 3D film featuring the voices of Beyoncé, Jason Sudeikis, and Colin Farrell, among others. Epic was produced by Blue Sky Studios, which Wedge co-founded in 1986; it's the studio behind the Ice Age movies.
"We got to do something that looks unlike anything that has come before it," Wedge says of Epic. "I'm most pleased that the ideas we had at the beginning of the movie--an epic adventure in this tiny world, fun areas to have little battles--all those things are there. We realized that in every way, technically and creatively."
At Ohio State, Wedge studied with Csuri's Computer Graphics Research Group, a forerunner of the school's trailblazing Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD).
Csuri's vision was an interdisciplinary research center where artists and computer scientists worked together. That combination gave rise to the computer animation industry, says Maria Palazzi, director of ACCAD.
The result, according to Palazzi: alumni who are "some of the most established professionals throughout the animation production and computer graphics industry--at places like Pixar, Dreamworks Animation, Apple, Microsoft." Last year, ACCAD grads helped create two Oscar-winning films, Brave and Life of Pi.
"As a community, ACCAD takes great pride in these accomplishments," Palazzi says. "These alumni are leaders in research, academic, and commercial animation production throughout the world."